Bill Bennett keeps a bentwood box in his office containing dozens of handwritten thank you notes. He also displays many of the notes on his office wall.
Bennett is the general manager for Alaska Coastal Aggregates, a Sealaska subsidiary. He also manages the Sealaska Carving and Bark Program.
The team — Frank Peratrovich, Gary Mills and Bill Bennett — take great pride in the work to make the program possible. Last year was the first year the program donated red and yellow cedar bark materials that reached groups dedicated to teaching traditional weaving.
With Alaska residents under a state-issued social distancing mandate, the Sealaska Carving and Bark Program team wants to give back in some small way and support stay-at-home activities. They reached out to all Southeast tribes offering a bundle of paddles and cedar bark, if requested at no cost to each community.
The response was immediate and materials are being delivered to nearly a dozen tribes throughout southeast. Bennett says the response included words of gratitude and excitement. “This gives me and the team great pride and inspiration to be a small part of a larger regional effort,” said Bennett. “We stand next to organizations like Tlingit & Haida, Sealaska Heritage Institute, and Southeast tribes that are supporting cultural activities in our communities.”
If your tribe is interested in receiving a bundle of small dance paddles, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Bundles will be delivered at no cost.
Learn more about the Sealaska Carving and Bark Program efforts in this video.